ANCHORAGE, Alaska —The American Cancer Society has announced a partnership with the Providence Cancer Center to improve colorectal cancer screening rates in Alaska. The project is part of a nationwide initiative that will drive quality improvement strategies and evidence-based interventions to promote and deliver cancer screening appropriately, safely and equitably. The full map of projects can be found here.
Cancer can impact anyone at any age, but finding cancer early increases survival rates. Despite this evidence, too many individuals for whom cancer screening is recommended remain unscreened due to barriers beyond their control. Quality of life and cancer outcomes should not be determined by variables like ZIP code, education, income and access to health care.
“Our longstanding partnership with Providence Alaska Medical Center has been impactful in many ways, including collaborating on increasing cancer screening rates in Anchorage,” said Charissa Habeger, director of the American Cancer Society in Alaska. “Some screening barriers can be addressed on a community level if health professionals have the support needed to improve internal processes and provide resources, and the American Cancer Society is grateful to be part of that support.”
Due to a significant decrease in screening rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Cancer Society launched the comprehensive and multi-sector “Get Screened” initiative in February 2021 to dramatically increase screening rates through local and regional engagement. Part of the approach includes supporting health systems in providing screenings to communities with historically low screening rates.
The first year of the program, 88% of health systems increased cancer screening rates in at least one screening area; 135,000 additional people were screened; and 4,300 breast, cervical and colorectal cancers were diagnosed. In 2022, 345,600 breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer screenings were completed, and 6,600 cancers were diagnosed.
“Providence Alaska Medical Center is proud to partner with ACS in efforts to increase our screening rates across the state of Alaska,” said Vicky Phillips, senior director of Oncology at Providence Cancer Center. “Screening saves lives, and that is our goal."
Providence Alaska Medical Center engaged Providence Family Medicine Center in early 2022 as the focus site for the screening partnership with American Cancer Society. Since launching, the project expanded in 2023 to also include Providence Medical Group Primary Care and will focus on distributing FIT Kit stool screening tests to eligible patients.
According to the American Cancer Society’s recently released Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Facts & Figures, 2023-2024, barriers to cancer screening are not mutually exclusive and occur and interact at multiple levels, including policy, health system, provider, community, and patient levels. Access can be improved by
- Reducing administrative barriers and costs;
- Offering alternative and flexible screening sites and hours; and
- Providing childcare, transportation, and translation services.
Health system-wide reminders, feedback and incentives can improve providers’ recommendations, and small media and educational campaigns can improve patient demand for screening.
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a leading cancer-fighting organization with a vision to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. For more than 100 years, we have been improving the lives of people with cancer and their families as the only organization combating cancer through advocacy, research, and patient support. We are committed to ensuring everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. To learn more, visit cancer.org or call our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-227-2345. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Providence Alaska Medical Center
Providence Alaska Medical Center, a nationally recognized trauma center and Alaska’s only Magnet hospital, is part of Providence, a not-for-profit network of hospitals, care centers, health plans, physicians, clinics, home health services, affiliated services and educational facilities. For more information about Providence Alaska Medical Center, visit providence.org/locations/ak/alaska-medical-center.